Major lab, housing project proposed on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton

Major lab, housing project proposed on Soldiers Field Road in Brighton

By   –  Senior Reporter, Boston Business Journal

Trammell Crow Co. has put forward one of the largest development proposals in Boston in the past year: Three new life sciences buildings, as well as 200 residential units — all of them income-restricted — in Brighton.

The Dallas-based CBRE Group Inc. (NYSE: CBRE) subsidiary and a nonprofit partner, The Community Builders Inc., is looking to put roughly 1 million square feet of new development over seven acres at the western end of Soldiers Field Road, just before the North Beacon Street Bridge that connects Boston and Watertown, according to a letter of intent filed late last week.

The development would be divided into two sites by a shopping plaza that now stands in the middle, home to Party City, Staples and McDonald’s stores. The first phase would be 1600 Soldiers Field Road and 15 Soldiers Field Place, now home to an Acura car dealership. The second phase would be 1800 and 1850 Soldiers Field Road, home to an IHOP restaurant and the former Charles River Inn, which has been used recently as a temporary homeless shelter.

The proposed project’s two residential buildings would feature units meant to be affordable to those making 60% of the area median income, on average. Most of the units would be two- or three-bedroom. Mayor Michelle Wu has made clear she is prioritizing the creation of more income-restricted housing in the city.

“With this project, we believe there is a tremendous opportunity to address the need for affordable housing in Boston, enhance access to the Charles River and deliver best-in-class commercial product, which will help sustain Boston’s position as the premier life science market in the U.S.,” Sam Schaefer, who leads Trammell Crow’s Boston operations, said in a statement.

The properties are just outside the parts of Brighton that the Boston Planning and Development Agency recently won approval to rezone. Trammell Crow is positioning the project as a master plan development area in order to change the zoning, saying it would be consistent with the BPDA’s new plan elsewhere in Allston-Brighton.

Boston-based Community Builders would build the housing, with the commercial space helping to subsidize the residential component. Trammell Crow asked in the letter of intent that the city consider using the linkage payments from the commercial component to help fund the housing.

The residential buildings would feature about 250,000 square feet, while the commercial buildings would have roughly triple that space.

Trammell Crow said it would include “significant improvements” to the Leo M. Birmingham Park and Parkway and the nearby I-90 underpasses as part of the project. As it stands, the area of the proposed redevelopment is “blighted and decadent, lacking sponsorship, financial investment or improvement, any community activation, and has increasingly become a beacon for unwanted and illegal activities,” the letter of intent said.

At the moment, Pine Street Inn is operating the motel on the property as an auxiliary shelter, but a spokesperson for the organization told the Business Journal that it planned to vacate the location in June.

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